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Jim Barton

One Night at a Pak-a-Sak in Iraq
  (or, No Need To Put That in a Bag, Dad)


It all hit home in less than sixty seconds.

You remember, it was the night

the sky started falling in Baghdad.

There was a harried-looking reporter

on a hotel balcony, giving his play-by-play

as fireballs wracked the city’s heart.


He was carrying on about how frightened

(shocked and awed) the populace must be,

what with the sirens blaring,

unseen jets screaming overhead in the dark,

tracers and ack-ack printing ghost lines in the sky,

saying over and over that this was a city in fear.


Just then, as if on cue, without a clue

that his world was deconstructing, he appeared.

Over the reporter’s shoulder, out on the darkened street,

an ancient, battered Toyota trundled past,

and, blinker obediently flashing, it eased

into the deserted Pak-a-Sak lot .


A slump-shouldered man got out of the car,

stood dumbly staring at the shuttered store,

and wondered just how he’d explain to his wife

that he’d forgotten the milk and bread earlier,

and now, for what seemed almost no reason at all,

the neighborhood store was closed.


    He got back in,

    adjusted the mirrors,

    and backed out onto the deserted street,

    a suddenly worried grasshopper

    making his weary way home

    through a city of well-stocked ants.


Jim Barton writes from Huttig, Arkansas.  He works as a chemical laboratory technician and has poetry published or accepted at Snowy Egret, MOBIUS, Dana Literary Society, Between the Lines, Blue Collar Review, and others.

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